G 20 in Rome laid the pretext for the Glasgow Environment Summit- the COP. Both felt short of the expectations is an understatement. Were there greater hopes from the leadership of the world especially those of G20 that take the carbon credit of polluting nearly 80% through emissions- yes indeed! Most of them are also the ones that possess the means to address the challenges of Climate Change? They are the ones who are rich and can provide the finances. They also have the technologies to make the world Green yet again. But they are lacking the will to share those as a global Good. Leader after leader did not lack in using high-sounding adjectives to highlight the plight of the world. That we are digging our own graves is a given. But we are also digging it for posterity.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson recalled and accused Scottish James Watt from Glasgow University (who must be turning in his grave for doing good to the world – inventions ought to be value-neutral), of inventing the Steam engine that led to the industrial revolution that in turn led to the modern-day plight. Simplistic. But that also led to the deprivation of a very large part of the world that was still colonized, and now new colonialism of a new kind persists. Technology has evolved but its expanse and dispersal remained in the hands of a few. The same is the case with green technology.
In the Covid pandemic, it was so evident in the disenfranchisement of a vast population of the developing world with ‘Vaccine Apartheid’ holding sway. Technology and financial capabilities are mutually sustaining. Hence,3/4th of the world is doomed but will continue to bear the brunt of progress and development elsewhere with greater pain and despondency paying for someone else’s adventurism. Time to course correct is now since the survival of humanity is at stake and that can only be done by adopting a share and care approach even if in the short term. A pure commercial mindset will only advance the doom even though some are looking to even colonize the space or to find perhaps a greener exclusive landscape.
At G20, the big guys agreed to attempt to bring the temperatures down to 1.5 degrees, of course, a need and a clarion call as at the things stand today the world might warm up by 2.7 degrees by 2030 as per some scientists. No timelines no real commitment to climate finance except underscoring the need and their own so-called nationally determined commitments were the highlights for those not present. $ 100 bn commitment to finance green technologies and other innovative environmentally sustainable practices by the developing world are still elusive. Some more debt has been added to the already heavily indebted countries. Altruism has got short shrift.
India, as PM Modi said, believes in ‘One Health One World’ and has been and will be the voice of the developing and dispossessed world. In this context, he also underlined important dimension of variance in focus between the North and the deprived South underscoring Climate Justice while pitching for traditional practices and its ISA ( International Solar Alliance ) and CDRI (Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure ‘ Adaptation does not get as much importance in the global climate debate as Mitigation. This is an injustice to developing countries, which are more affected by climate change.’ India with the UK is also working on a Solar Grid Connectivity with a coalition of the willing as Sun really does not set.
India has exceeded her commitments at the Paris Accord and set more ambitious targets as it displays the leadership on this vital mission. Modi said despite having 17 percent of the world’s population today, whose responsibility in emissions has been only 5 percent, still, India has left no stone unturned to show that it has fulfilled its obligation. Today the whole world believes that India is the only big economy, which has delivered in letter and spirit on the Paris Commitment.’ While underlying India’s civilization quest for harmony and respect for nature he did come up with and campaigned for a new mantra of LIFE ( Lifestyle for Environment). Not staying behind in its credible and achievable commitments and timelines India outlined the targets as it asked the world to make trillions of dollars available for greening initiatives in all sincerity for the disadvantaged developing countries. Modi undertook to :
‘First– India will reach its non-fossil energy capacity to 500 GW by 2030.
Second– India will meet 50 percent of its energy requirements from renewable energy by 2030.
Third– India will reduce the total projected carbon emissions by one billion tonnes from now onwards till 2030.
Fourth– By 2030, India will reduce the carbon intensity of its economy by less than 45 percent.
And fifth- by the year 2070, India will achieve the target of Net-Zero.
These panchamrits will be an unprecedented contribution of India to climate action, he added. Some skeptics would say that India has pushed the agenda by one or two decades beyond but cumulatively and with its unrelenting focus it might still be one of the few countries in the world to fulfill the promises as it launches 500 GW renewables target. It is better to be realistic and on a reliable track rather than indulge in verbosity alone.
Perhaps apart from focusing on the dire state of the environment, one good thing is the return of the biggest polluter the United States of America to the Climate table with a bang as President Joe Biden tries to undo some of the extraneous and dangerous steps taken by his predecessor. It is another thing that other two major powers and polluters in China and Russia decided to give Glasgow a slip -perhaps for bilateral reasons.
As India -1/6th of the world’s population celebrates the Festival of Lights this week let me wish you all a Happy GREEN Diwali. Every drop of effort is worth its while to preserve our planet.
This article Trigs on Track-Diplomacy Unwound-COP- Cacophony of Promises first appeared in The India Observer
About the Author
Anil Trigunayat, former Indian Ambassador to Jordan, Libya and Malta